Top 12 Paying Jobs You Can Get with an Associate Degree Published September 18, 2019

Whether you’re fresh out of high school, a working adult seeking a career change, or a military member interested in returning to school, higher education choices are endless — and sometimes overwhelming.  

Course selection, tuition, class size, faculty, and reputation are all factors to consider. But, what about earning potential? The process of earning a degree is important, but don’t forget about the results. Selecting the proper degree can lead to a prosperous career, one that financially secures graduates for years to come. 

There are many things to love about Rose State College, including our affordability and career outlook. Rose State College has a variety of Associate in Applied Science degree options. Unlike an Associate in Science (AS) or an Associate in Arts (AA) which are designed to transfer to a 4-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree, an Associate in Applied Science is designed to give graduates a direct path towards a career. Even though AAS degrees are considered a terminal degree, these degrees are designed to get graduates into the workforce quicker and more affordably. Below are the 12 highest-earning jobs you can get with an Associate in Applied Science degree from Rose State. 

Career Fields You Can Enter with an Associate Degree

Each year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor produces an occupational outlook handbook that helps identify trends, employment projections, and median wages for various professions. Data shows associate degree-level occupations had a median annual salary of $52,830 in 2017 compared to $36,100 for workers in high school-level occupations. In short, education pays. 

Not surprisingly, occupations in healthcare and technology produce good paychecks and stability thanks to the projected growth rate. In fact, careers in computer and information technology are expected to increase by 13% from 2016 to 2026 — faster than the average for all occupations — with a projected 557,100 new jobs. Figures below include the 2018 median annual wage and job outlook (percentage employment change from 2016-2016), per the Bureau of Labor’s occupational projections and worker characteristics.

1. Dental Hygienist

Rose State Degree: Dental hygienist (AAS)

Median annual wage: $74,820

Projected job growth: 19.7% (Much faster than average) 

Serving as the building blocks of a dental office, this licensed professional provides preventive, therapeutic, and educational services to maintain oral health, most commonly associated with keeping your teeth pearly white. The benefits of attending Rose State and becoming a dental hygienist are two-fold: it has both the highest salary potential and boasts a promising future — the Bureau of Labor projects more than 17,500 annual openings through 2026, the most among high-paying occupations that typically require an associate degree.  

The program is accredited by the American Dental Association and offers perks like small class sizes for ideal faculty/student interaction.

2. Registered Nurse

Rose State Degree: Nursing Science (AAS)

Median annual wage: $71,730

Projected job growth: 14.8% (Much faster than average) 

The nursing scene is set to explode, as the Bureau of Labor projects 438,1000 new jobs from 2016 to 2026, the third-most among professions. Reasons for the high projection include increased emphasis on preventive care, growing rates of chronic conditions like obesity, and demand for healthcare from the baby-boom population.  

An associate degree is the most popular route to cash in on this expected trend. A recent study found associate nursing degree recipients accounted for more than half (52.4%) of licensing exam test-takers.

3. Web Developer   

Rose State Degree: Computer Information Technology (AAS)

Median annual wage: $69,430

Projected job growth: 15% (Much faster than average) 

Informational technology is an integral part of just about any industry, as there is more of an emphasis on the internet by the day. This broad field can cover anything from career choices in computer systems to web developers. At Rose State, prospective students can receive a concentration in programming languages such as Oracle, C++, Java, HTML, Visual Basic, and .Net with degree options in computer programming or database development.

4. Database Administrator

Rose State Degree: Computer Information Technology (AAS) - Database Option

Median annual wage: $63,146

Projected job growth: 11% (Much faster than average) 

Data is important, and good businesses must keep their data organized and accessible. Database administrators are these organizers, and they use specialized software to store and organize large amounts of data, working closing with information systems managers to tailor solutions to the needs of the business. DBAs find themselves working with a variety of coding languages, such as SQL, XQuery and more. Debugging code, upgrading software, establishing user permissions, and working to restore lost data are just a few of the job duties of a typical database administrator. 

5. Respiratory Therapist

Rose State Degree: Respiratory therapist (AAS)

Median annual wage: $60,280

Projected job growth: 23.4% (Much faster than average) 

Beyond the more well-known medical field jobs like nursing, physician’s assistants, and physical therapists, respiratory therapy is a fast-growing occupation. In fact, the Bureau of Labor ranks it inside the top 30 in the highest expected change with a projected 30,500 more employees from 2016 to 2026. It’s one of health care’s best-kept secrets, says Rebecca Knox, Rose State College Director of Respiratory Therapy. So what does a respiratory therapist do? They assist those who have breathing issues from acute or chronic conditions, whether it’s recovering from heart attacks or managing sleep disorders.

6. Radiologic Technologist

Rose State Degree: Radiologic Technology (AAS)

Median annual wage: $59,520

Projected job growth: 12.3% (Faster than average) 

The healthcare industry has many ancillary professions that keep operations running smoothly. Radiologic technologists, in basic terminology, are medical personnel who run diagnostic imaging equipment to produce X-rays. They properly document images so radiologists can make an accurate diagnosis, and are educated in radiation safety, patient care, and examination techniques.

7. Information Security Analyst

Rose State Degree: Cyber Security (AAS)

Median annual wage: $56,793

Projected job growth: 32% (Much faster than average) 

As data breaches and cyber threats continue to escalate, the need for information security has never been higher. Statistics estimate that there could be as many as 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity-related jobs by 2021. Information Security Analysts play a key business role as the individuals responsible for planning and executing a business’ digital security measures. On any given day, they may monitor their organizations’ networks for security breaches, or conduct penetration testing to discover potential vulnerabilities. Information Security Analysts are constantly looking to stay ahead of cyberattackers, ensuring that this job is never boring or dull.

8. Paralegal and Legal Assistants 

Rose State Degree: Paralegal Studies (AAS)

Median annual wage: $50,940

Projected job growth: 14.6% (Much faster than average) 

If medical assistants and techs are the busy bees of health care, then paralegals serve the same role in the legal world. They are an important asset to assist attorneys, completing duties, and tasks to free up time for them. They are fact-finders, researchers, and organizers. Responsibilities depend on a firm’s size and type of law practiced. It’s a way to get a taste of law firms for those who may not have the time or resources to become full-blown attorneys. 

9. Environmental Science and Protection Technicians, Including Health

Rose State Degree: Environmental Science (AAS)

Median annual wage: $46,170

Projected job growth: 12.1% (Faster than average) 

Interested in global warming or climate change? While a four-year college can offer a degree to become an environmental scientist, a more affordable route may come through an associate degree. Here, a technician would work with scientists to monitor the environment, pollution, and alternative energy systems, among other duties. This occupation caters to the hands-on type, allowing technicians to collect and analyze samples, such as air, soil, and water. Rose State offers three tracks within the environmental science degree: quality and safety, natural resources, and science and analytical.

10. Human Resource Assistant

Rose State Degree: Human resources (AAS)

Median annual wage: $40,390

Projected job growth: -1.8% (Little or no change)

Expect to handle an array of job duties in this office profession. Human resource assistants work behind-the-scenes, helping directors and managers maintain employee records. They also are involved in the hiring, training, and recruiting of new employees. Rose State offers human resources as one of six subsets of a business administration degree. Graduates can expect to seek employment in jobs like a training specialist, compensation analyst, recruiter, employee-relations specialist, and human resource generalist.

11. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Rose State Degree: Health Information Technology (AAS)

Median annual wage: $40,350

Projected job growth: 13.5% (Faster than average) 

Another form of behind-the-scenes work, these technicians are essential in maintaining and organizing detailed records. Part of the job is geared toward in-house patient data and histories, while technicians can focus on the ever-growing field of medical coding. A favorable job outlook is due, in part, to the widespread and growing transition to electronic records, leaving traditional bookkeeping in the dust.

12. Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks

Rose State Degree: Accounting (AAS)

Median annual wage: $40,240

Projected job growth: -1.5% (Little or no change)

There are three job opportunities for those with an associate degree in accounting — bookkeeping, accounting clerks, and auditing clerks. Bookkeeping clerks deal with broader aspects, like the general ledger (debits and credits). Accounting clerks can have more specialized tasks in a larger company like billing vouchers and code documents. Auditing clerks verify financial data and records to ensure accuracy. Graduates can move into public accounting or the private sector. 

Interested in one of these degree programs at Rose State College? Contact us using this form. Or, if you’re ready to get started, apply today.